- Associated Press - Thursday, December 31, 2015

WESTHAMPTON BEACH, N.Y. (AP) - Hundreds of friends and family members gathered on Thursday to pay tribute to one of six U.S. servicemen killed in a suicide attack in Afghanistan.

Staff Sgt. Louis Bonacasa’s remains were returned to the U.S. during a ceremony Thursday afternoon at the F.S. Gabreski Air National Guard base in Westhampton Beach.

The 31-year-old solider, from Coram, left behind a wife and 5-year-old daughter. He was a member of the 105th Security Forces Squadron, an element of the 105th Airlift Wing based at Stewart Air National Guard Base in Newburgh.

The six Americans were killed on Dec. 21 when a suicide bomber rode a motorcycle into a group of soldiers outside the Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan.

“Duty threw down the gauntlet that fateful day in Afghanistan, and Louis refused to compromise the safety of his fellow warriors nor the future safety of his wife and his daughter,” Col. Timothy LaBarge, commander of the 105th Airlift Wing, told mourners, WCBS-TV reported.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who was among the mourners, called Bonacasa “a hero.”

“I hope the family takes comfort in that,” he said.

Friend Jennifer Nyx told WABC-TV that Bonacasa’s death was “a great loss for everyone.”

“He was really a great man, a great provider, and has a beautiful family,” Nyx said.

The five other Americans killed in the attack included Technical Sgt. Joseph Lemm, a New York City police detective who was laid to rest Wednesday.

A funeral for Bonacasa will be held Saturday at the New Beginnings Christian Center in his hometown. He will be buried at the Calverton National Cemetery.

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